School Council: What's the point of a School Council?

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Bede's Prep School students Lily Jenden, Chase Sutherland and Giles Kerr met recently to discuss the merits of the Student Council and, since they are all elected members of the institution, to defend the idea from assault!

When asked what the Student Council is, Giles, who is in Year 8, was the first to speak up.

"Basically," he said, "as a Student Council member, it's your job to make the school better."

"You create new things that aren't there already," adds Lily, who is in Year 4. "We use Form Time to collect ideas from children in our year groups, and then suggest improvements or give thoughts to the teachers."

Chase, who is in Year 6, then speaks up.

"A good example was water fountains. Lots of pupils said that they were thirsty, especially in the Sports Hall after P.E. and or practise, so we asked for one to be installed. And now there is one, and students are much happier."

The Student Council has been running at Bede's Prep School for many years now, and increasingly it is a source of pride for those pupils who are elected to see suggestions which they put forward turned into something real.

But how are representatives selected?

"We're elected by our year groups," says Lily, "at the start of every year."

When asked about the possibility of bribery and corruption, the pupils shake their heads and laugh.

"All we do is voice worries," says Giles. "There is some power, but not much really."

"If Student Voice wasn't listened to, the school wouldn't be the same," Chase states, emphatically. "It's important that we have the ability to put across our point of view."

Lily nods, adding, "We're middle-men really."

When asked about whether all Student Voice should be listened to, Giles is very clear.

"It's important that we have sensible ideas to put forward. Lots of pupils wanted a water slide in the swimming pool, but that was never going to happen. It wasn't needed to help pupils succeed."

"Plus, Health and Safety," says Chase, who points at the table top.

When asked about all the things the Student Council has achieved, the pupils are clear that there is still work to be done, even though Bede's Prep School listens to the pupils.

"There's not a lot of things that make people unhappy," says Lily, "but people always want more things. For example, some lazy pupils wanted a lift installed and the school, and we rejected the idea in Student Council."

"On the other hand," she continues, "some other children wanted more footballs at break, because the boys were using them all and the girls wanted to play football too. So now we have footballs for girls, and everyone is happier!"

"Plus," says Giles, "although there are no big problems at the school, if you were to abolish the Student Council then that could end up being really bad. You never know when problems are going to develop. So in some ways we're extremely lucky, because we can nip things in the bud."

But it's not all fun and games, according to Chase.

"The whole thing about this school is that it's about finding the things you like and then specialising. But there's just too much to do, and not enough time in the day. I would love to change the school times, for example, but I don't think we would have much luck with that."

Giles laughs, adding, "There's not enough years in my lifetime to change some things. But I've been on the Student Council for two years, and there have been some big changes. We now have a whole Year 8 corridor, for example, with bigger classrooms to let our Project Work spread out. Likewise with the catering. I mean, the people in the kitchens just cannot win."

Chase couldn't agree more.

"I know the food is amazing, and there's loads of choice, but sometimes I'll be eating a sludgy jam sandwich and think, things are good, but they could get better."

But surely, if all there is left to fix is the amount of jam in the sandwiches, there isn't much need for a Student Council after all?

"There's so many things that we do as pupils that teachers would never think about," says Lily. "I always feel like I'm rushing around and am so busy."

"What we really need is more Student Council time, because we have so many ideas," she adds.

"It's all about being listened to and understood."